‘Adult-Vaccination Restaurant’

Little Giant has announced a new policy for their West End restaurant,

We are now an “adult-vaccination restaurant.” This means that if you are an adult who has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you are welcome to dine at Little Giant. If you have not been vaccinated, please make alternate dining arrangements.

Vaccine ineligible children and vaccinated adults are welcome to dine at Little Giant in our outdoor dining options only. If you are dining with children, please select outdoor dining when booking or call us at 207-747-5045 to discuss dining options.

Masks are required when not eating or drinking. Our bar seats are currently unavailable.

While this may be the first Portland restuarant to implement this approach, a growing number of restaurants in NYC are taking the additional step of requiring diners to show proof of vaccination to eat indoors.

Update: The Hunt + Alpine Club is also asking their customers to be fully vaccinated to be seated indoors at their bar, and Crown Jewel on Great Diamond Island has announced that indoor seating is only for vaccinated customers.

For more reporting on this subject read this article by the Press Herald.

‘Elevated Establishments’

The Press Herald has published a list of ‘elevated establishments’ in the Portland area.

Feeling low after year of being cooped up at home because of the pandemic and unable to enjoy Portland’s vibrant nightlife?

Well, maybe you should aim higher this summer, and treat yourself to some of southern Maine’s rooftop bars or elevated dining patios. Some have sweeping views of Portland’s downtown, Back Cove or the harbor. Others let people gaze over the ocean or a nearby river from an elevated perch while sipping cocktails or munching on oysters, burgers or a salmon filet, whatever your taste may be.

A Wave of Hard Seltzer

The Maine Sunday Telegram reports on the growing popularity of hard seltzer and increasing number of Maine-based producers.

In March, Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers Guild, took an informal survey of craft breweries to find out how many are making hard seltzers or planned to. The survey is already out of date. He now estimates that at least 20 Maine breweries make hard seltzer, and a handful of others are considering it.

When customers walk through breweries’ doors, Sullivan said, they always ask tasting room managers, “What do you have that’s new?”

“This summer, I think a lot of our brewers are answering that question with seltzer,” he said.

The Slow Return

The Maine Sunday Telegram reports on the bumps in the road as supply chains and staffing shortages impact a return to “normal”.

As vaccinations and the waning of the pandemic drive locals back to their favorite restaurants this summer, and tourists who have been set free from masks and social distancing flood the state, those diners probably won’t find the Maine restaurant experience to be the same as in 2019. Restaurants are now allowed to operate normally, but a severe shortage of workers, coupled with snags in the supply chain and rising food prices, are making that long-awaited return to normal difficult. One restaurateur likened the past couple of months to coming off “a 15-month winter.”

A Tale of Two Portlands

The Press Herald has all the details on an errant dumpling machine ordered by Little Brother from China.

“We saw that it was headed for Tacoma, Washington, and then Portland, Oregon.” Lee said. “We called them and they said, ‘It’s already in the water. We can’t do anything about it now.’”

Guyer, laughing, recalled the company’s suggestion: “Can’t you just go to Oregon and pick it up?”

East Bayside Map

Working with local design firm Sugarjets Studio and map designer/maker Melissa Pritchard, Dean’s Sweets has produced a map of the East Bayside neighborhood where their chocolate shop is located. It highlights the areas food, drink and retail establishments.

“In addition to the hope of boosting business for everyone in the neighborhood, according to Bingham, the map was equally about connecting the community of entrepreneurs and artists. There is a small section on the map on the history of the people who have moved to and lived in East Bayside, still home to many Mainers, as well as information on the current community police coordinator. Fun, inviting illustrations hint at the recreation possibilities in the neighborhood as well.”

You can find paper copies of the map at businesses in East Bayside.

Worker Perspective Op/Ed

Katie Keating and Heather Foran have written a Maine Voices article for the Press Herald.

In the recent series about Portland restaurants, the Press Herald quoted 41 business owners and one non-supervisory worker. As restaurant workers, we have seen this trend repeat through the pandemic: profiles of struggling business owners, told with little attention paid to the experiences of their employees. The failure to represent worker perspectives creates a one-sided story about so-called “labor shortages” that implies that workers are unwilling to work and would rather depend on unemployment. This misses the bigger picture: people risking their lives in an industry that does not provide health insurance during a pandemic; that often does not pay a living wage in a city with skyrocketing housing costs, and in which people have no legal recourse for unsafe conditions.

Expectations, New Customers, Huga

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes articles on what tourists should know and understand as they visit restaurants in our state,

I asked several Maine chefs, restaurant owners and front-of-house staff how we might be able to help tourists understand what to expect, and what we’ll be expecting from them in return. So if you’re a summer visitor, listen up: There are a few important things to know before you arrive.

an article about business models that thrived during the pandemic, and

The past year has been devastating to many small businesses in Maine, and restaurants have been among the hardest hit. But some other food-related businesses have actually done well, either because of their pandemic-friendly business models or because they were able to provide people stuck at home with what they needed, from fresh seafood to meals delivered right to their doors.

an article about Huga.

Greig and Olsen designed a heated cushion for seated outdoor activities, primarily capitalizing on people’s desire last winter to continue dining out during the pandemic, when many restaurant and tasting room customers were unwilling, or able, to eat inside. By keeping customers comfortable, Hüga cushions also helped keep those businesses alive. The business launched in January.

Food Trucks

More reporting on this year’s big expansion in the number of Maine food trucks:

Maine Calling on Maine Public radio aired a program late last week with a panel of food truck owners and other related professionals weighing in.

Maine’s food truck scene is booming, with new offerings appearing all over the state. We’ll find out how the pandemic affected business for food trucks, and how they are preparing for the busy summer season. We’ll also learn about the variety of offerings, and what the challenges and opportunities are of operating a food truck.

Mainebiz has published an article on what’s driving the expansion and the work involved in launching a mobile food business.

Welcome to the wild and wacky world of food businesses on wheels, a segment that took off in Maine — and elsewhere — during the pandemic when traditional restaurants were closed to in-person dining or forced out of business entirely. That’s opened up opportunities for newcomers like Kehoe hungry to start a business at a fraction of the cost — and hassle — of a bricks-and-mortar setup as well as new revenue streams for existing businesses.